A former Nazi guard’s trial is underway 69 years after he allegedly killed a Dutch resistance fighter. The man, 92-year-old Siert Bruins, served with the Nazi Waffen-SS during World War II.
The trial began on Monday in the Hagen state court in Western Germany and is part of a wider attempt across the continent to prosecute former Nazis.
Bruins was born in the Netherlands, but he was given German citizenship while he served with the Nazis, reports The New York Times.
The indictment against him alleges that Bruins and another member of the border patrol took Aldert Klaas Dijkema into an abandoned factory. The Dutch resistance fighter was killed with four shots, one to the back of the head.
It isn’t clear whether Bruins was actually the one to pull the trigger. However, there is a legal precedent that allows him to be prosecuted anyway.
NBC News notes that the precedent was set by the 2011 trial and conviction of John Demjanjuk. The Ohio autoworker was convicted of accessory to the murder of 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in Poland in 1943.
The conviction was the first time a German court found a suspect guilty of war crimes without evidence her had personally committed the crime. It also prompted the Simon Wiesenthal Center to offer a reward of up to $32,500 for and information leading to prosecution and punishment for similar cases.
Siert Bruins was already sentenced to seven years in prison in 1980 for the murder of two Jewish boys in 1945. He was convicted as an accessory in that case. The man’s attorney, Klaus-Peter Kniffka, stated that it is unlikely Bruins will address the court during the month-long trial.
Rather, Kniffka told reporters he will deliver a defense declaration. German federal prosecutors are also expected to announce charges this week against 40 former Auschwitz guards.
[Image by Suyk, Koen / Anefo via Wikimedia Commons]